A Militant Mindset

Paige Fixemer | Senior

Millard South High School

No one was more surprised than Millard South senior Paige Fixemer when her Premier volleyball coach Sarah Hughbanks pulled her aside two years ago and suggested she consider playing volleyball for the Army. “West Point? Me? No,” she recalled. Hughbanks, who previously coached at West Point and served in the Army herself, saw potential in Fixemer. But it wasn’t until she talked to West Point volleyball coach Alma Kovaci Lee for an hour and a half on the phone that Paige’s interest was piqued.

Fixemer attended a volleyball camp at West Point the following summer, which is when she knew it was a fit. “I got this feeling that I belonged there.” She stayed in the barracks and got a taste of what it would be like as she watched the cadets go about their training. She was hooked. “I knew this was somewhere I could be happy and grow as a person.”

This past summer, Fixemer attended Summer Leadership Experience (SLE) training. According to her mother Sally, “It’s a day in the life of a cadet. You do PT (physical training), your classes, leadership and military training for seven days.” As part of her training, Fixemer was able to shoot an M4 and a grenade launcher in a simulation lab. “That was the best week of my life.”

Everyone at West Point is technically on a scholarship because it is 100 percent fully funded for all cadets. Being a recruited athlete helped a bit with admissions, but even with a Letter of Assurance (LOA), Fixemer still had to pass the medical exam, the candidate fitness assessment and get a nomination from one of her state representatives. Representative Don Bacon and Senators Ben Sasse and Deb Fisher each had their own application process, including a board interview. “It’s so intimidating to sit across a table of eight people who are successful, retired military,” Fixemer said. It was a six month process, but she finally received nominations from both Representative Bacon and Senator Fisher in December.

Although Fixemer’s parents were nervous about having her go into the Army, Hughbanks reassured them as long as she is herself and does what she’s supposed to do, she’ll be fine. “If that’s where she wants to be, and that makes her happy, we’ll support her,” Sally said. Fixemer is excited about her future at West Point. “Same thing with volleyball and with life—if I set my mind to it, I’m going to do it.”

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